Archive for the ‘Revivals in History’ Category

Revivals in History 6

March 2, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Wilmington, Delaware 1815
He heard their prayers; frustrated the calculated removal of Mr. Dodge, poured out his spirit among them; settled the church again in her glory, and crowded their house of worship with souls, who trembled at the word and cried for mercy. Mr. Dodge was soon so deeply impressed with this singular display of divine power, that he was constrained to alter his former arrangements about leaving the place… Every event seemed to augment the concern of multitudes…Their impressions were so great, that many were scarcely able to leave the house where weeping, and sighs and prayers abounded. Meetings were frequent. Preaching, singing, praying, and exhorting became very pleasant work. The children of God were refreshed, and engaged in the revival with increasing ardour…The Rev. Messrs. Blackburn and Patterson, of the Presbyterian denomination were greatly blessed in this place. The Spirit descended, and every cheek appeared bathed in tears, and many cried, what shall we do to be saved?

The pastor, Mr. Dodge, looked at the effects of what was going on and did not conclude that he was a wonderful preacher or that the people had worked hard and became spiritual. What started with a few praying became a crowded house of worship and those there trembled at His word and cried for mercy. According to Isaiah 66, God loves it when people are humble, contrite, and tremble at His Word. The living God does not look for men to work these things in their own hearts, but instead He has to work that in them. He alone is self-sufficient and He alone can make a heart that loves Him and His Word. He alone can work something in the heart of man that pleases Him.

Instead of looking at spiritual effects and concluding that men must have been doing something, we need to look at spiritual effects and conclude that God was doing something. It is true that man-centeredness can produce religious effects and there can be spurious revivals, but true brokenness and a true God-centeredness can only come as a result of God working among His people. During a spiritual famine there will be those who go forth from sea to sea and there will be strange fire and things worked up by the flesh of men, but where the true things of God are and true spirituality is the only One who can produce those things is God Himself.

This is also a great lesson that we are not to think that our fleshly prayers that we have worked up to produce a revival of the religious and fleshly self will produce anything but the flesh. Much religion is worked up in the flesh and it has some of the same outward things, but the root of fleshly religion is the self which is really Satan who loves religious fervor as long as it does not come from the Spirit of God. The wiles of Satan are many and he is constantly sowing seeds of division and false religion. Unbelievers can also be caught up in large numbers by a false religion and they can be deceived into making decisions that they think are decisions for Christ. But divine power can only come from God and there are distinctives of the work of the Spirit of God that the true children of God will be able to see and behold His glory.

Some of the true signs of the work of God are set out in the writings of the author above, but what we should first note is that the church is returned to a state of glory. God created all things for His glory and yet the Church has a peculiar glory. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of glory and is the shining forth of the glory of God (Heb 1:3). The Church is the body of Christ and it is united to Him and is to shine forth His glory as He is the shining forth of the glory of God. The true Church is to be Christ in the world (as such) and is not a social institution and is not be focused on men as the primary issue. The Church is all about God and His glory. The Church is settled in Her glory when the true churches are full of His glory and seeking Him and His glory.

Each church should seek the Lord for His presence and His work of power in their hearts to turn them from the world and from trusting in themselves and their own devices. Each church should know that only God can turn hearts to Himself and only God can give people true desires after Himself. Only God can fill a house of worship with people are truly trembling and pleading for Him to show mercy. When men seek God in our day they think that they can simply pray a prayer and He will show them mercy. However, when men are broken in heart they will seek Him in their weakness and inability asking Him to show them mercy. Then men understand that mercy is a sovereign act granted to them by grace alone and that they should seek it rather than demand it or dream that they can do something to move Him to show it to them.

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Revivals in History 5

March 1, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Wilmington, Delaware 1815
He heard their prayers; frustrated the calculated removal of Mr. Dodge, poured out his spirit among them; settled the church again in her glory, and crowded their house of worship with souls, who trembled at the word and cried for mercy. Mr. Dodge was soon so deeply impressed with this singular display of divine power, that he was constrained to alter his former arrangements about leaving the place… Every event seemed to augment the concern of multitudes…Their impressions were so great, that many were scarcely able to leave the house where weeping, and sighs and prayers abounded. Meetings were frequent. Preaching, singing, praying, and exhorting became very pleasant work. The children of God were refreshed, and engaged in the revival with increasing ardour…The Rev. Messrs. Blackburn and Patterson, of the Presbyterian denomination were greatly blessed in this place. The Spirit descended, and every cheek appeared bathed in tears, and many cried, What shall we do to be saved.

Revival is when the real and true God moves His people to desire Him and then gives Himself to them. The people of God are delivered from the world and seek Him with their hearts and their desires. Yes, God hears the prayers of His people, but He must put the desires for Himself in their hearts or they will never truly pray. For some reason fallen sinners tend to think that true revival is all about them, but real revival is always about God and His glory. Real revival is not primarily to save sinners, but it is always about the living and true God.

In the revival account above the author of it notes this very carefully. It was God who heard the prayers of the people (some, not all prayed). It was God who frustrated the plans of some to get rid of the minister. It was God who poured out His Spirit among the people. It was God who settled the church again in her glory. It was God who crowded the building with souls who trembled at the word and cried out for mercy. The minister was not amazed at the acts and works of the people; he was amazed at the display of divine power.

We must take these things to heart in our day. There will not be a true revival until people learn to seek the Lord for true repentance and true grace. Note that I did not say that there will not be a true revival until people repent as if it is in their own power to do so, but that there will not be a true revival until people learn to seek the Lord for true repentance and true grace. Revival is a work of God. Repentance is a work of God. Faith is a work of God. Love is a work of God. All of those things are spiritual things and beyond the power of the flesh to do them.

The preaching of the Gospel must begin again rather than have men preach what is being preached today. We have men preaching as if salvation is in the hands of men and they can simply pray a prayer or make a choice. We teach men that they can do this at any point as if they can save themselves apart from the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and breaks the heart of men from pride and sin. It seems to be that today men are taught that God will give grace to the proud and all they have to do is say a prayer without being granted repentance. Jesus Christ Himself taught us that unless a man is turned and becomes like a child he will not enter the kingdom. Those who are greatest in the kingdom are those who are the most humble (Matthew 18:3-4).

The preaching of today, even if it is Reformed in name, seems to regard the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God as if they are things we need to hide from people. Instead, and with the strongest words possible, we must set out the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God. Men must be saved from their depravity and if we don’t set it before them they will always seek salvation in terms of their own pride and self. If we don’t set out the sovereignty of God in salvation, men will never truly understand the nature of grace alone.

Revival comes as a work of God and as a holy God He will do all for His own glory. The only Gospel that there is in all the universe is the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Sinful men do not deserve to hear the Gospel and it is only grace that will save sinners. God is not under the slightest obligation to save sinners and only when men understand that will they understand free-grace. We live in a day when Pelagianism and Arminianism have been used to turn the Church from God to the things of self. The self has no power to turn to God and so we are utterly dependent upon Him to turn us if we are going to be turned. We must seek Him who has no obligation to turn us back to Himself and so we must seek from Him hearts that love His glory and so seek His glory in our prayers as we seek Him for true revival.

Revivals in History 4

February 9, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Acworth N.H.
Nothing has appeared like a revival in this town until 1814…At the first communion after his consecration, sixteen offered themselves to the church. Immediately after this, instances of individual conviction made their appearance in different parts of the society and one and another were made to rejoice in God. A solemn and strict attention was paid to the word preached, and the good work progressed gradually until Sept 1816. In which time about sixty were added to the church. Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals, hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention; looking, as if their everlasting all depended on the proper improvement of a single sermon…[speaking of the school there] They began to discover a greater relish of the scriptures. In searching for the answers to their questions, they felt an increasing desire to know more of the lively oracles of divine truth. Every vacant moment when relieved from their other school exercises, the bible was taken up.

Brian Edwards defined or described revival as a people saturated with God. Whether or not one agrees with that description or whether or not one agrees that revival is something to be sought, that is descriptive of what happened in several different nations and many churches in those nations in times past. A true revival has not been reported (at least to my hearing) since around the early 1900’s. Some say that there has not been a true revival in the United States since the time of the Civil War. If Brian Edwards’ definition or description is correct, then God has not come down and saturated His people with Himself since the Civil War.

There are reasons why God does not come down and fill His people with Himself. On the one hand people say it is because we do not pray enough and we don’t do enough evangelism and on and on, but that would mean that God comes down on certain conditions if His people will meet them. I would argue that we have fallen into that type of thinking a long time ago and it continues until the modern day. We should seek the Lord to give us hearts to truly pray and seek Him to come down and manifest His glory. We should plead with the Lord to change our hearts and give us humbled and broken hearts that we may pray for His kingdom and glory as our greatest desires. We have to learn to pray from the heart for His name’s sake.

We want revival as a way of excitement, a way of church growth, or perhaps as a secret hope that we will be distinguished by God among ministers or people. But our hearts must learn to seek His presence for the sake of His name and be content with Him to do according to His good pleasure and for Him to distinguish those whom He pleases if He pleases. He alone deserves to be distinguished in a true revival and those who seek to be distinguished are thieves of His glory and are idolaters. Revival is when God manifests Himself to His people and in His people. It is when people are taken away from themselves by His power and by His free-grace they are caught up with Him and His glory.

In times when people are seeking the Lord and not themselves they study Scripture looking for Him and His glory and looking for Him to show them these things by free-grace. God does not show Himself to His people because they study the Bible as if He responded to their works, but He shows Himself to those that seek Him for humbled and broken hearts and seek Him as they study the Bible. God does not show Himself to people because they pray, but because they seek Him during prayer for hearts to know Him and for Himself to manifest Himself for His own glory. During times of revival people are delivered from dutiful study, prayer, and attending church and they all become means of seeking Him and for Him to glorify Himself to them and in them and through them. While no one can prepare his or her heart to seek the Lord, one should use the means and seek the Lord to prepare his or her heart. It is His work to teach the heart and we cannot do that. How joyful are the people when the Lord opens their eyes to see and their ears to hear something of His presence and glory!

Revivals in History 3

February 8, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Acworth N.H.
Nothing has appeared like a revival in this town until 1814…At the first communion after his consecration, sixteen offered themselves to the church. Immediately after this, instances of individual conviction made their appearance in different parts of the society and one and another were made to rejoice in God. A solemn and strict attention was paid to the word preached, and the good work progressed gradually until Sept 1816. In which time about sixty were added to the church. Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals, hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention; looking, as if their everlasting all depended on the proper improvement of a single sermon…[speaking of the school there] They began to discover a greater relish of the scriptures. In searching for the answers to their questions, they felt an increasing desire to know more of the lively oracles of divine truth. Every vacant moment when relieved from their other school exercises, the bible was taken up.

The attention that people are able to devote to sermons and the teaching of the Scriptures during these times of awakening and revival is quite beyond the natural ability of those during ordinary times. During those times it appears as if heaven or the presence of God comes down and dwells among men and the thoughts and hearts of men are taken from worldly things and they are taken up with spiritual things. It is also true that preaching seems to be changed from being dry lectures to dealing with spiritual things as if they were the real issue and not the ordinary things of life in the spiritual realm. Buildings are filled with people who come and are actually anxious to hear the preaching of God and of His words.

What would it look like and what would it “feel” like to be around a crowd of people that could be described as “awakened immortals” and then to have those awakened immortals “hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention” and that the entire time that he spoke? What would it be like to preach to a congregation of people so awakened or (as the case mentioned above) be at a school of teenagers? What would it be like to be amongst a group of people (large or small) that were concerned enough that they appeared as if their everlasting all depended upon how they listened to a sermon and how it was applied to them? Do we even have the remotest idea of what these things would be like in our day? Do we desire to be like those people?

One thing to think about is that the presence of God does not leave people comfortable and in control. In our day people want to be comfortable and in control. While awakened souls long for and desire to see the wonder and glory of God (and their own sin) set forth in the Scriptures, those who long for comfort and control do not long for those things. Those who long for comfort and want nothing but that comfort and control will never know what it means (until eternity) to be in the presence of the true God who is sovereign and His very presence brings a reverent fear and awe. Those who don’t have a great relish for Scripture and the God of the Scriptures will not want to be stripped of all hope in self and all self-righteousness so as to leave one naked with nothing but Christ.

The heart of an awakened soul becomes curious in one sense about divine truths, but it is not just an intellectual curiosity. It wants to know the very life of the doctrine and the very life of God in the soul. Dry doctrine will not give the relish these souls long for as these souls hunger and thirst for Christ and only Christ who is the bread of life will satisfy these immortal souls. In our day when we are asleep just a little dry doctrine or moral behavior is enough for people to hear, though they may not want to live that way. We must seek the Lord that He would awaken our souls and give them even just a taste of His glory. We must seek the Lord that for the sake of His name and His glory that He would come down (so to speak) and awaken His people and give them a hunger and thirst for Himself that nothing will satisfy but Himself. We must not be satisfied with anything but the real Christ and His real grace which is free-grace and sovereign grace.

Revivals in History 2

February 7, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Acworth N.H.
Nothing has appeared like a revival in this town until 1814…At the first communion after his consecration, sixteen offered themselves to the church. Immediately after this, instances of individual conviction made their appearance in different parts of the society and one and another were made to rejoice in God. A solemn and strict attention was paid to the word preached, and the good work progressed gradually until Sept 1816. In which time about sixty were added to the church. Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals, hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention; looking, as if their everlasting all depended on the proper improvement of a single sermon…[speaking of the school there] They began to discover a greater relish of the scriptures. In searching for the answers to their questions, they felt an increasing desire to know more of the lively oracles of divine truth. Every vacant moment when relieved from their other school exercises, the bible was taken up.

The sign of God’s spiritual judgment is not that of great activity as such, but the opposite of the hearts being broken and the opposite of people who are being fed by God. In other words, when God withdraws the hearing of His words, He hardens hearts and the souls of people are not fed with spiritual truth. During a time of true revival, however, He works in the hearts of people. He convicts both believers and unbelievers and brings them to a true knowledge of their sin. The people begin to be solemn when the words of God are preached and they begin to pray strict attention.

What we must see, then, is that we should seek the Lord to give us ears to hear. It is not that we can earn this or accrue merit in any way, but the Lord does use means though we should never trust in the means themselves. It is only when each person and people as a whole (perhaps not every person) begin to hear His words with the understanding that He gives that they will pay attention to the preaching of His words and as such begin to listen with solemnity. True preaching must be attended with true hearing, but only the Spirit can produce true preaching and true hearing. Before a preacher can truly preach, the preacher must be a hearer of the words of God.

While it may not sound like a lot in our day to have 60 people added to a church in two years, things were different in the period of time we are looking at. The churches were smaller and the population was much smaller. It is also true that people were examined closely and many times for a period of time before they were considered to be Christians. They did not believe that just because a person became serious, religious, and more moral that the person was necessarily converted. They were thorough in examining those who professed the faith and they watched their lives to see if there was a true change of heart and their religion was not just a momentary thing.

The following quote should be imprinted upon the minds and hearts of every preacher and perhaps all who attend a professing church. “Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals.” The church was said to be a house of God because God was present. People came to hear the words of God knowing that they were in the presence of God. It was because they had been taught of God in the inward man that they were there to hear the words of God in the presence of God that they were not drowsy and they were not inattentive. No one has ever been bored while in the presence of God. No one has ever been inattentive when God visits a congregation or a people. We should seek Him for that in our day.

The last part of the sentence quoted in the previous paragraph is enormous. Instead of being drowsy and inattentive hearers, they were “awakened immortals.” God has awakened them and had shown them that they would live forever in either heaven or hell. They were awakened to spiritual realities rather than continuing to slumber their way to hell. They now realized that when they died they would enter eternity. They realized that they were not just mortal beings, but they had eternal souls that would never die. It is when souls are awakened to eternal things by the living God that they begin to understand and know their desperate need of grace. They see that they have nothing to offer this great God and that they can do nothing to make their situation better. When properly taught they will begin to see the greatness and glory of free-grace rather than their own so-called free-will. How we must seek the Lord to awaken us in our day that it may be truly said of us that we are awakened immortals.

Revivals in History 1

February 7, 2016

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Acworth N.H.
Nothing has appeared like a revival in this town until 1814…At the first communion after his consecration, sixteen offered themselves to the church. Immediately after this, instances of individual conviction made their appearance in different parts of the society and one and another were made to rejoice in God. A solemn and strict attention was paid to the word preached, and the good work progressed gradually until Sept 1816. In which time about sixty were added to the church. Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals, hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention; looking, as if their everlasting all depended on the proper improvement of a single sermon…[speaking of the school there] They began to discover a greater relish of the scriptures. In searching for the answers to their questions, they felt an increasing desire to know more of the lively oracles of divine truth. Every vacant moment when relieved from their other school exercises, the bible was taken up.

When we think of how barren this nation and others are regarding true spirituality, there is no real hope unless God sends a true reformation and revival as opposed to one that is worked up by human feeling and excitement. While there have been reports of revival in places here and there in the modern day, it appears that those were more like wildfires than a true work of God. The living and true God that all must appear one day in the presence of is judging the professing Church by sending a great famine upon her. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with people filling buildings for religious services. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with great learning and great religious devotion. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with conservative views of the Bible. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with expositional teaching. A famine of hearing the word is consistent with strong view of historical theology and historical creeds. A famine of hearing the word is consistent with a lot of Bible study and even prayer.

What we must understand is that God sends this famine of the word but that does not stop the human heart from desiring religion and having a hunger that cannot be filled. The famine is not the absence of having Bibles and having professing churches, it is a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Only the Spirit of the living God can give ears to hear what God is saying. It is not the case that the so-called free-will of man can make himself hear the words of the LORD, but God has to open the ears of man in order for him to hear. Man is completely and utterly dependent upon the Spirit for all true hearing of the words of the LORD. When men are proud and think that their own efforts and devices are enough, we will end up with endless conferences and much talk of the Bible, but there will be no power and the living God will not dwell among men.

One of the things that is demonstrative evidence that God is judging people is that He does not convict them of sin. That is to say, He is sending a famine of hearing His words. John 16 is quite clear that one of the works of the Spirit is to convict men of sin. When He is not doing that, He is not working in the souls of men. In Acworth, New Hampshire around 1814, there was an appearance of the first things of a true revival. What was it that happened? People began to be convicted of sin. When a thrice holy God begins to awaken sinners and draw them to Himself, He will convict men of sin. As long as men are unconcerned about sin and go on in open sin or in great religious devotion, the Lord is not at work and people are spiritually insensitive.

In older times when God worked among His people and the unconverted with power, men would speak and write about how men should seek conviction of sin. We must know that we can never convict ourselves of sin in the depths of the soul, but we can ask the Lord to convict us and work in us. A person that is not convinced of his helplessness in sin will not look to Christ alone for deliverance. A person that is not convinced of his utter inability will not look to the ability of Christ alone to bring him or her to Himself. As in the statement about revival above, it was only after people were convicted of sin did they come to the point of rejoicing in God. In our day of self-seeking and building self-esteem not only is God not working, we hardly know what it means. God has sent a great sleep upon us and we are slumbering away thinking that all is well. All is not well. We simply must have God come and awaken us. If not, all is lost. Let us seek the Lord to come, to convict, and to give us ears to hear.